I’ve been beating the Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro drum quite a bit lately, including this morning, when I wondered why in the heck one or both of them haven’t been fired yet.
Cleveland Frowns, however, says that the problems lie elsewhere:
But before becoming too shaken up by the prospect of either of these men hanging on to their jobs here in Cleveland, we recommend considering just how much we should expect from them and our baseball team that plays on the low end of what is unquestionably an uneven playing field . . .
. . . in the seventeen baseball seasons since the Cincinnati Reds’ 1990 World Series title, only ONE team that plays in a media market smaller than Cleveland has won baseball’s big one, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals . . . So the next time we get that sick feeling in our stomach when the next Tribe star leaves, we might comfort ourselves with the knowledge that there are real world stats that correspond with our sickness.
There’s more to it than that — some numbers talking about market size, mostly — but the gist is that it’s market size rather than Wedge and Shapiro that lies at the root of the Indians’ losing ways.
I guess I’d be more willing to buy that if (a) the Indians’ biggest problem was losing its superstars as opposed to not even having their less-than-star-studded club play up to its potential; and (b) if the Indians’ didn’t field multiple enormously successful clubs since 1994 or so, with all of those teams playing under the same basic business dynamic as today’s club.
More generally, the Frowns’ article makes a big effort to explain away much of the success of smaller market teams in the past couple of decades, discounting the Rays because they had so many high picks, discounting the Cardinals because they play in “the best baseball town in America” (never mind that it’s a smaller town than Cleveland), both the Cardinals and Blue Jays because of new stadiums just prior to winning their titles and removing the Marlins and their two titles from consideration altogether because they were “unquestionably weird.” Frowns doesn’t explain how those titles were “weird” apart from the fact that their example cuts against their argument.
I think the final nail in the coffin of that argument is the resort to football and basketball:
Or, you might also protect yourself from such bad feelings the way we do here at Frowns, that is with a growing sense of apathy toward Major League Baseball as a whole, and especially in comparison to the NFL and NBA, leagues that understand that meaningful competition requires a level playing field.
Number of teams who have won the World Series since 1990: 12
Number of teams who have won the Super Bowl since 1990: 12
Number of teams who have won the NBA Finals since 1990: 7
Level playing field, indeed.